I like real life case studies. Let me share one with you.
Last week I spoke to 134 Federal employees in Wichita, KS in a large auditorium at Wichita State University. A financial adviser from Kansas worked closely with the Wichita Federal Executive Association (WFEA) to bring this together. The program consisted of an employee benefits briefing for Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) employees in the morning, and a program for Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) employees in the afternoon. Many employees brought their spouses along with them, and drove up to three hours from locations around the state in order to attend. (And, to their credit, none grumbled about the government shutdown.)
When I talk with financial advisers about the opportunities to help Federal employees, I often recommend that hosting an employee benefits program similar to this one offers an ideal occasion to meet people who need their help. The association in this particular area only hosts these programs every two years. During that time there is a large vacuum of questions that builds and is looking for escape. We were able to help release that vacuum with the information that we provided.
The comments we received on our evaluation form from the attendees were very favorable, but many would have preferred more time to ask questions about their individual benefits and circumstances. Those who had additional questions added their contact information to the evaluation form, and about one third of them want to meet with the adviser in the coming weeks (and possibly many more in the future, as he builds his presence in this market).
I continue to see advisers who try to attract new clients with expensive evening dinners at a nice restaurant (Maggiano’s and Ruth’s Chris are particular favorites) and a general program on financial planning or estate planning. These agendas are a ‘dime a dozen’ and require large expensive mailings to attract fewer than 20 people. The message is usually designed to scare the attendees into meeting with the adviser, and can be heavy on the sales pitch. Advisers are typically disappointed with the results, but continue to offer these programs because of the lack of a better idea. They could take a lesson from this adviser who
- Has decided on a niche market for his practice (working with employees of the nation’s largest employer).
- Worked with an organization to host the program and invite their members, (in this case, the WFEA) rather than blindly sending mass mailings.
- Didn’t need to buy anyone dinner at a nice restaurant to motivate them to attend (we provided communications materials to the organization’s members to explain the benefits of attending).
- Contracted with a firm that has developed and successfully presented these types of programs regularly, and specifically for his market (my company).
- Wasn’t afraid to bring in an outside expert to professionally present the information (I believe that was me).
- Provided useful, relevant, and objective information which was designed to really help the attendees, rather than to mislead or scare them.
- Offered to follow up with only those who actually requested his help.
As a result of his efforts, it wasn’t necessary for this adviser to spend thousands of dollars on mass mailing of invitations. In fact, he may actually RECEIVE invitations to present similar programs from the Federal agencies whose employees couldn’t attend (after hearing about the program from their colleagues). This case study is an excellent example of a successful niche marketing program.
Do you want to attract someone to your seminar? First, decide exactly who you want to attend. Then, develop a program that is unique and targeted to that particular audience. And, enlist the help of an interested organization who may also benefit by helping you to sponsor or host the program. Maybe it’s time to finally stop those boring, cookie-cutter financial planning dinners and try something new. Sorry, Maggiano’s.